2.5 million Ukrainian refugees have fled to Poland. Churches are helping but the financial burden is too much.
Consider helping today!

Bible Commentaries

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2 Peter 3


Verse 1

1 .] This Epistle now, beloved, a second, write I unto you (or, “This second Epistle now write I unto you:” but the position of δευτέραν seems rather to shew that the emphasis of the sentence is on it): in which Epistles (E. V. well, “ in both which :” viz. this and the first, implied in δευτέραν ) I stir up your pure (see ref. Phil., note) mind ( διάνοια is that aspect of the spiritual being of man, in which it is turned towards the outer world; his mind for business and outer interests, guiding him in action: see Beck, Umriss der biblischen Seelenlehre, p. 58. And this may be said to be εἰλικρινής , when the will and affection being turned to God, it is not obscured by fleshly and selfish regards: the opposite being ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ , Ephesians 4:18 . It seems impossible to reproduce in English these distinctions; we can only give them a general rendering, and leave all besides for explanatory notes) in reminding (see the same expression and note, ch. 2Pe 1:13 );

Verse 2

2 .] that ye should remember (= εἰς τὸ μνησθῆναι : compare the infinitives ποιῆσαι and μνησθῆναι abruptly introduced in a similar manner in Luk 1:72 ) the words spoken before by the holy prophets (i. e. the O. T. prophets, as referred to above ch. 2 Peter 1:19 ff. The vulg. has curiously misrendered: “ eorum quæ prædixi verborum a sanctis prophetis ”), and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour given by your apostles (as commonly taken, this sentence is made to contain a violent inversion, τοῦ κυρ . κ . σωτ . being taken out of its place after ἐντολῆς and attached to τῶν ἀποστόλ . ὑμῶν . Any how, the construction is harsh, the double gen. being unavoidable: but it is surely much better to take ἐντολῆς in its most obvious connexion, and make τῶν ἀποστόλων ὑμῶν the second genitive the command originating in our Lord, and given you by the Apostles who preached to you: τῶν ἀπ . ὑμῶν meaning “ your Apostles” as we call St. Paul ἀπόστολον ἐθνῶν . It is quite impossible that μῶν can stand: and difficult, even if it did, to render as E. V. “of us the Apostles.” It is obvious, from the constant independence even in very similar sentences, of the two Epistles, that the [21] place in St. Jude, where it stands ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων τοῦ κυρ . ἡμ . Ἰης . χριστοῦ , is no guide here, nor reason why the same words should be joined together):

[21] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Verse 3

3 .] knowing this first (cf. ref., where the same phrase occurs. The nom. γινώσκοντες is joined loosely with μνησθῆναι . Jude introduces the same prophetic fact with ὅτι ἔλεγον ὑμῖν , 2Pe 3:18 ), that there shall come in the last of the days (see note on Hebrews 1:1 ; and 1 Peter 1:20 . It slightly differs from ἐπ ʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμ ., at the end of the days, as extending, by the plur., the expression, though perhaps not the meaning, over a wider space: = ἐπ ʼ ἐσχάτου [ τοῦ ] χρόνου , Jud 1:18 ) scoffers in ( their ) scoffing (scoffers making use of scoffing: cf. Revelation 14:2 , κιθαρῳδῶν κιθαριζόντων ἐν ταῖς κιθάραις αὐτῶν : 2 Kings 20:22, ἐλάλησεν ( ἡ γυνὴσοφὴ ) ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ αὐτῆς : Dan 1:4 Theod., συνιέντας ἐν πάσσοφίᾳ , κ . γινώσκοντας γνῶσιν , κ . διανοουμένους φρόνησιν .

On the sense, cf. Jud 1:18 ), walking according to their own lusts (so Jude 1:18 ; Jude 1:16 , here combined),

Verse 4

4 .] and saying, Where is the promise of His coming ( ποῦ ἐστιν , implying that it is no where, has passed away and disappeared: cf. reff. αὐτοῦ , of Christ: whose name would be understood as of course) ? for from the day when ( ἀφ ʼ ἧς , sc. ἠμέρας : reff.) the fathers fell asleep, all things continue thus from the beginning of creation (the assertion is not easy to apportion grammatically. One thing is certain and may be first cleared away, that we cannot after οὕτως supply ὡς ἦν , “as they were,” E. V.: οὕτως simply referring to the present; as they are, as we now see them, and ἀπ ʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως belonging only to the verb, διαμένει . This being so, we still have two predicatory clauses following the verb: ἀφ ʼ ἧς οἱ πατ . ἐκοιμ ., and ἀπ ʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως . The way of explaining this must be, that the time of waiting for the promise necessarily dates from the death of the πατέρες , and the duration of things continuing as they are now extends back beyond the death of the fathers: so that the meaning will be, ever since the death of those to whom the promise was made, things have continued as we now see them (and as they have ever continued even before those fathers) from the beginning of creation. So that πάντα οὕτως διαμένει ἀπ ʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως is a general proposition applicable to all time: ἀφ ʼ ἧς οἱ πατέρες ἐκοιμήθησαν , the ‘terminus a quo’ this general proposition is taken up and applied to the case in hand. And now we have cleared the way to enquiring, who are meant by οἱ πατέρες . And the answer is plain: largely and generally, those to whom the promise was made: the same as are indicated Romans 9:5 , ὧν οἱ πατέρες : yet not exclusively these, but simultaneously with them any others who may be in the same category, e. g. those who bear to the N. T. church the same relation as they to that of the O. T. The assertion, as coming from the ἐμπαῖκται , must not be pressed to any particular date, but given that wide reference which would naturally be in the mind of one making such a general charge).

Verse 5

5 .] For (i. e. they speak thus, because) this (viz. this fact which follows) escapes them (passes unnoticed by them) of their own will (i. e. they shut their eyes to this fact. So we have θέλων in Od. γ . 272, of Paris and Helen, τὴν δ ʼ ἐθέλων ἐθέλουσαν ἀπήγαγεν ὅνδε δόμονδε ; l1. δ . 300, al. Some, among whom are Rosenmüller, Pott, Bretschneider, Huther, take τοῦτο to refer to the saying of 2 Peter 3:4 , and render θέλοντας meaning ,’ ‘supposing,’ as in Herodian, v. 3. 11, εἰκόνα τε ἡλίου ἀνέργαστον εἶναι θέλουσι . But besides that this would introduce an unusual meaning for θέλω , and that meaning not in its usual application to an hypothesis or assumption, but to an asserted fact, a stronger objection is, that thus the sentence becomes a very flat one, and quite out of place among the sharp and nervous denunciations of the passage. The other is the rendering of almost all Commentators and versions. The vulg. is ambiguous, “latet enim eos hoc volentes”), that the heavens ( οὐρανοί = οἱ οὐρανοί , see Winer, § 19. 1) were from of old (ref.: “jam inde a primo rerum omnium initio,” Gerh.) and the earth ( ἦσαν , above, serves for γῆ also) formed ( συνεστῶσα , ‘consistent,’ see reff.) out of water and by means of water ( ἐξ ὕδατος , because the waters that were under the firmament were gathered together into one place and the dry land appeared: and thus water was the material, out of which the earth was made: δι ʼ ὕδατος , because the waters above the firmament, being divided from the waters below the firmament, by furnishing moisture, and rain, and keeping moist the earth, are the means by which the earth συνίσταται . This is the simplest rendering, and very nearly that given by Huther. De Wette goes ‘in omnia alia’ after traces of far-fetched cosmogonical references, Indo-Ægyptian and Greek: but the whole interpretation of our passage lies in the book of Genesis. Œc., without mentioning the reference to the waters above and beneath the firmament, gives a similar explanation of the ἐκ and διάἐξ ὕδατος μένὡς ἐξ ὑλικοῦ αἰτίου · δι ʼ ὕδατος δέὡς διατελικοῦ ) by the word of God (not of its own will, nor by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms),

Verses 5-7

5 7 .] First refutation : from the biblical history of the creation .

Verses 5-10

5 10 .] Refutations of this their scoffing inference .

Verse 6

6 .] by means of which (two) (viz. the waters under the firmament and the waters above the firmament: for in the flood (1) the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and (2) the windows of heaven were opened, Genesis 7:11 . The interpretations of δι ʼ ὧν have been very various. Œc. understands ὧν to refer to the heavens and the earth, τῆς μὲν τὸ ὕδωρ ἐπικλυσάσης , τῶν οὐρανῶν δὲ τοὺς καταῤῥακτὰς αὐτῶν ἐπαφέντων : and so Bed [22] (but giving a curious meaning to δι ʼ ὧν : not, as Huther states, ‘ in quibus partibus ,’ but grammatically, though strangely, ‘ by means of which (its parts perishing), the world, which was made up of heaven and earth, perished :’ “per hæc enim perdita mundus qui in his constiterat, periit”), Beza, Wolf, Horneius, De Wette, al. Again Grot., Piscator, Dietlein, al., take δι ʼ ὧν for ‘ quamobrem ,’ i. e. because the world was ἐξ ὕδ . κ . δι ʼ ὕδ ., or because it was τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ . Luther renders wrongly, dennoch ¸ nevertheless. Calvin, Pott, al. and recently Huther, understand δι ʼ ὧν of waters; and account for the plur. by the ὕδωρ as material and the ὕδωρ as medium, above, or as Gerhard by understanding “things,” and taking in also the word of God as comprehended) the then world (i. e. the whole state of things then existing. The Apostle’s argument is, as against the assertors of the world’s endurance for ever, that it has once been destroyed , so that their assertion is thereby invalidated. The expression τότε κόσμος must neither be limited, as Œc., τὸ ἀπώλετο μὴ πρὸς πάντα τὸν κόσμον ἀκουστέον , ἀλλὰ πρὸς μόνα τὰ ζῶα , ἃ τὸν ἅπαντα κόσμον οἱονεί εἰδοποιεῖ : nor strictly pushed to its utmost extent, as Huther, who maintains that it must be exactly identical with οἱ οὐρανοὶ καὶγῆ below. The analogy is not exactly, but is sufficiently close: and κόσμος , as an indefinite common term, takes in the οὐρανοὶ κ . γῆ , which were then instrumental in, and purified by, the destruction, if not altogether swept away by it. Nay the analogy is closer than this: for just as Noah stepped out of the Ark on a new world, the face of the heavens clear, and the face of the earth renewed, so we look for a new heavens and earth ( 2Pe 3:13 ), yet like these others constructed out of the materials of the old) being inundated with water, perished ( ἀπώλετο , see last note; not, was annihilated , but lost its then form and subsistence as a κόσμος , and passed into a new state. Only thus, as Huther observes, does the verse come in logically as a contradiction to the saying of the scoffers, πάντα οὕτως διαμένει ἀπ ʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως ):

[22] Bede, the Venerable , 731; Bedegr, a Greek MS. cited by Bede, nearly identical with Cod. “E,” mentioned in this edn only when it differs from E.

Verse 7

7 .] but the new heavens and earth (contrast to ὁ τότε κόσμος : the postdiluvian visible world) by His (God’s: if αὐτ be read, it must not be pressed to signify any one saying, but must refer generally (as with αὐτοῦ ) to the prophetic word, which has announced that which comes to be mentioned) word are treasured up (perf. “have been, and are still,” kept in store, put by, against a certain time: see especially ref. Rom. Dietlein fancies that the idea of θησαυρός must be kept hold of, the οὐρανοὶ κ . γῆ being the stored-up material for wrath to be exercised on: but this is mere fancy, and is contradicted by Romans 2:5 , where the reference is the same), being kept (present, denoting that it is only God’s constantly watchful Providence which holds together the present state of things till His time for ending it) for fire ( πυρί , dat. commodi) against the day of judgment and perdition of impious men ( τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνθρώπων does not, as Dietlein imagines, import that οἱ ἄνθρωποι , mankind, are ἀσεβεῖς : but = τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἐν ἀνθρώποις ).

Verse 8

8 .] But let this one thing not escape you, beloved ( ἓν τοῦτο , as especially important: λανθανέτω ὑμᾶς , in allusion to 2Pe 3:5 ), that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (the saying is the completion of that in Psalms 90:0 (reff.), setting forth also in a wonderful way, that one day may be in God’s sight as productive of events as a millennium: in other words, when both clauses are considered, placing Him far above all human limits of time. “Summa: Dei æonologium (sic appellare liceat) differt ab horologio mortalium. Illius gnomon omnes horas simul indicat in summa actione et in summa quiete. Ei nec tardius nec celerius labuntur tempora, quam Ipsi et œconomiæ ejus aptum sit. Nulla causa est cur finem rerum aut protelare aut accelerare necessum habeat. Qui hoc comprehendemus? Si comprehendere possemus, non opus foret a Mose et Petro addi, apud Dominum .” Bengel).

Verses 8-10

8 10 .] Second contradiction to the scoffers: we are not to judge God , in the case of delay, as we do men , seeing that His thoughts are not as our thoughts.

Verse 9

9 .] The Lord (i. e. God, the Father, as so often in this and in the first Epistle) is not tardy ( βραδύνειν , not merely to delay , but to be late , beyond an appointed time; so Gerh.: “discrimen est inter tardare et differre: is demum tardat, qui ultra debitum tempus quod agendum est differt”) concerning his promise (so, connecting the gen. with the verb, and not with ὁ κύριος , must the words be taken. The gen. is one of partition, as in ὑστερεῖν τινος , 2 Corinthians 11:5 ; 2 Corinthians 12:11 , παύεσθαί τινος , 1 Peter 4:1 , &c., the being late implying a falling short) as some (viz. the scoffers in question, who are pointed at) account (His conduct) tardiness (better thus, making βραδυτῆτα predicate, than to render νομίζουσιν “think concerning,” “define,” “explain,” and make βραδυτῆτα object only): but He is long-suffering towards you ( μακροθυμεῖν with εἰς here only: with ἐπί , Matthew 18:26 ; Matthew 18:29 ; Luke 18:7 ; James 5:7 ; with πρός , 1 Thessalonians 5:14 : ὑμᾶς , the readers of the Epistle; not as a separate class, but as representing all, cf. πάντας below), not willing that any should perish, but (willing) that all should go forward (reff.) to repentance (Calvin is quite wrong in his rendering, “omnes ad pœnitentiam recipere:” equally wrong, in his alternatives, “aut colligi, vel aggregari.” Plutarch has the very expression, De flum. p. 19 (Wetst.), ὀλίγον δὲ σωφρονήσας , καὶ εἰς μετάνοιαν ἐπὶ τοῖς πραχθεῖσι χωρήσας ).

Verse 10

10 .] Assertion of the conclusion as against the scoffers the certainty, suddenness, and effect of the day of the Lord . But (notwithstanding the delay) the day (the art. is not needed for definiteness in the later Epistles, cf. 2 Peter 3:7 ; Philippians 1:6 ; Philippians 1:10 ; Php 2:16 ) of the Lord (= τοῦ θεοῦ , below, 2Pe 3:12 ) shall come ( ἥξει has the emphasis, as opposed to all the doubts of the scoffers. It is more than merely “shall come,” though no one word will give the exact force in English: “shall be here,” “shall be upon you”) as a thief (ref. 1 Thess.: from which place probably the expression is taken, as reference is made below to the Epistles of St. Paul); in which the heavens shall pass away (reff. Matt.; and Rev 21:1 ) with a rushing noise ( ῥοιζηδόν , τὸ μετὰ ἤχου · ἴδιος δὲτοιοῦτος ἦχος πυρὸς ἐν τοῖς ὑπὸ πυρὸς καταβοσκομένοις , Œc. ῥοῖζος is the rush of a bird, ref. Wisd., of an arrow, Il. π . 361, of the music or a shepherd’s pipe, Od. ι . 315: and, see Palm and Rost’s Lex., of any thing rapidly moving. Some understand it of the actual noise of the flames which shall consume the heavens: others, as De W., of the ‘ruina,’ or crash with which they shall fall: “magno impetu,” vulg.; “in modum procellæ,” Calv.: “cum stridore,” Beza: alii aliter), and the heavenly bodies ( στοιχεῖα , according to Bed [23] , the four elements , fire, air, earth, and water: but he is obliged to modify the meaning or λυθήσονται , inasmuch as fire cannot dissolve or consume fire: according to Bengel, the sun, moon, and stars , defending it by this word being often used in that sense by Theoph. of Antioch and others in Suicer sub voce. Certainly Justin Martyr so uses the word several times: cf. Apol. ii. 5, p. 92, τὰ οὐράνια στοιχεῖα εἰς αὔξησιν καρπῶν κ . ὡρῶν μεταβολὰς κοσμήσας : and Dial. Tryph. 23, p. 122, Epist. ad Diognet. 7 (Migne, Patr. Gr. vol. ii. p. 1177), and Otto’s notes. And considering that this clause, on account of the δέ , followed presently by the καί when we come to speak of the earth, necessarily belongs to the heavens, considering also that the mention of the heavenly bodies as affected by the great Day is constant in Scripture, cf. Matthew 24:29 ; Isaiah 13:9-10 ; Isaiah 24:23 ; Isaiah 34:4 , &c., I should be inclined on the whole to accept this interpretation, feeling that the above-named reasons overbear the objection alleged by De Wette, that the word does not bear this sense in any other passage of Scripture. This objection is also weakened by remembering, 1. that it occurs in a physical sense here only: 2. that in Galatians 4:3 , where it is clearly not in a physical sense, the Greek interpreters give it this meaning: see in Suicer sub voce, and mine and Bishop Ellicott’s notes on Gal. l. c., and note on Mat 24:29 ) being scorched up ( καυσόομαι , classically, to suffer from excessive heat: to be in a burning fever. The pres. part. gives the ground and reason of the following verb) shall be dissolved (not literally, melt [that is expressed by τήκεται below]: cf. λυομένων next verse, and reff. here), and the earth and the works in it ( ἔργα may mean either the works of men, buildings and the like, or, the works of the Creator: perhaps both of these combined, “opera naturæ et artis,” Bengel. Estius’s sense, “opera peccatorum,” is out of the question: nor does 1 Corinthians 3:15 &c. apply here, any further than that the same purifying fire is spoken of) shall be burned up (the var. readd. are very curious. That of [24] [25][26] 27] , εὑρεθήσεται , has plainly arisen from the Latin urentur . That it has so arisen, is a most instructive fact, and leads to inferences which cannot be here followed out).

[23] Bede, the Venerable , 731; Bedegr, a Greek MS. cited by Bede, nearly identical with Cod. “E,” mentioned in this edn only when it differs from E.

[24] The CODEX VATICANUS, No. 1209 in the Vatican Library at Rome; and proved, by the old catalogues, to have been there from the foundation of the library in the 16th century. It was apparently, from internal evidence, copied in Egypt. It is on vellum, and contains the Old and New Testaments. In the latter, it is deficient from Heb 9:14 to the end of the Epistle; it does not contain the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon; nor the Apocalypse. An edition of this celebrated codex, undertaken as long ago as 1828 by Cardinal Angelo Mai, has since his death been published at Rome. The defects of this edition are such, that it can hardly be ranked higher in usefulness than a tolerably complete collation, entirely untrustworthy in those places where it differs from former collations in representing the MS. as agreeing with the received text. An 8vo edition of the N.T. portion, newly revised by Vercellone, was published at Rome in 1859 (referred to as ‘Verc’): and of course superseded the English reprint of the 1st edition. Even in this 2nd edition there were imperfections which rendered it necessary to have recourse to the MS. itself, and to the partial collations made in former times. These are (1) that of Bartolocci (under the name of Giulio de St. Anastasia), once librarian at the Vatican, made in 1669, and preserved in manuscript in the Imperial Library (MSS. Gr. Suppl. 53) at Paris (referred to as ‘Blc’); (2) that of Birch (‘Bch’), published in various readings to the Acts and Epistles, Copenhagen, 1798, Apocalypse, 1800, Gospels, 1801; (3) that made for the great Bentley (‘Btly’), by the Abbate Mico, published in Ford’s Appendix to Woide’s edition of the Codex Alexandrinus, 1799 (it was made on the margin of a copy of Cephalæus’ Greek Testament, Argentorati, 1524, still amongst Bentley’s books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge); (4) notes of alterations by the original scribe and other correctors. These notes were procured for Bentley by the Abbé de Stosch, and were till lately supposed to be lost. They were made by the Abbate Rulotta (‘Rl’), and are preserved amongst Bentley’s papers in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (B. 17. 20) 1 . The Codex has been occasionally consulted for the verification of certain readings by Tregelles, Tischendorf, and others. A list of readings examined at Rome by the present editor (Feb. 1861), and by the Rev. E. C. Cure, Fellow of Merton College, Oxford (April 1862), will be found at the end of these prolegomena. A description, with an engraving from a photograph of a portion of a page, is given in Burgon’s “Letters from Rome,” London 1861. This most important MS. was probably written in the fourth century (Hug, Tischendorf, al.).

[25] The Codex Cyprius, brought from the island of Cyprus to Paris, and now in the Imperial Library there (MS. Gr. 63). Contains the Gospels (entire), memoirs of the saints of the Greek Church, and the canons of Eusebius. Collated by Tischendorf and Tregelles. Its text is peculiar and sui generis; and is consequently of much value. Assigned to the ninth century .

[26] By these symbols are designated the portions of two ancient MSS., discernible (as also are fragments of Ulphilas’ gothic version) under the later writing of a volume known as the Codex Carolinus in the Ducal Library at Wolfenbüttel. P (GUELPHERBYTANUS A) contains fragments of each of the Gospels. Q (GUELPH. B) fragments of Luke and John. Both are probably of the sixth century . They were edited by F. A. Knittel in 1762; and, more thoroughly, by Tischendorf in 1860 [1869], Monumenta Sacra, vol. iii. [vi.]

[27] The CODEX SINAITICUS. Procured by Tischendorf, in 1859, from the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. The Codex Frederico-Augustanus (now at Leipsic), obtained in 1844 from the same monastery, is a portion of the same copy of the Greek Bible, the 148 leaves of which, containing the entire New Testament, the Ep. of Barnabas, parts of Hermas, and 199 more leaves of the Septuagint, have now been edited by the discoverer. A magnificent edition prepared at the expense of the Emperor of Russia appeared in January, 1863, and a smaller edition containing the N.T. &c., has been published by Dr. Tischendorf. The MS. has four columns on a page, and has been altered by several different correctors, one or more of whom Tischendorf considers to have lived in the sixth century. The work of the original scribe has been examined, not only by Tischendorf, but by Tregelles and other competent judges, and is by them assigned to the fourth century . The internal character of the text agrees with the external, as the student may judge for himself from the readings given in the digest. The principal correctors as distinguished by Tischendorf are: A, of the same age with the MS. itself, probably the corrector who revised the book, before it left the hands of the scribe, denoted therefore by us א -corr 1 ; B (cited as א 2 ), who in the first page of Matt. began inserting breathings, accents, &c., but did not carry out his design, and touched only a few later passages; C a (cited as א 3a ) has corrected very largely throughout the book. Wherever in our digest a reading is cited as found in א 1 , it is to be understood, if no further statement is given, that C a altered it to that which is found in our text; C b (cited as א 3b ) lived about the same time as C a , i.e. some centuries later than the original scribe. These are all that we need notice here 6 .

Verse 11

11 .] These things being thus to be dissolved ( τούτων , this heaven and earth which surround us. According to the reading in the text, there is no particle of inference: but the inference is all the more vivid. οὕτως : viz. in the manner just described. λυομένων , the present implying destiny, as ὁ ἐρχόμενος , He that should come: cf. Winer, § 40. 2. a. It might be, with οὖν , a present proper , “are in course of dissolution;” but οὕτως forbids this: for they are not in course of dissolution by fire ῥοιζηδόν &c.), what manner of men (if we take ποταπούς interrogatively, we must not, as some (Pott, Meyer in his translation), put our interrogation at ὑμᾶς , or as others (Griesb., al.) at εὐσεβείας : far better carry on the question to the end of 2 Peter 3:12 , as more like the fervent style of our Epistle. But (reff.) ποταπός seems in the N. T. never directly to ask a question, but always to belong to an exclamation. Certainly reff. Luke are close approaches to the interrogatory sense, so that I would not, as Huther, altogether exclude it, but only protest against dividing the sentence. Still I prefer the non-interrogatory form, as in the other reff. On the word, see note, 1Jn 3:1 ) ought ye to be (when the event comes: ὑπάρχειν seems to imply some fact supervening upon the previously existing state: see Acts 16:20-21 ; Act 16:37 and notes) in holy behaviours and pieties (the plurals mark the holy behaviour and piety in all its different forms and examples. The words may be referred to ὑπάρχειν : but thus the strong ποταπούς would only be weakened, and it stands far better alone. So that I would join ἐν ἁγίαις κ . τ . λ . with what follows)

Verses 11-13

11 13 .] In direct reference to what has just been said, waiting and eager expectation is enjoined .

Verses 11-18


Verse 12

12 .] looking for and hastening (the older Commentators mostly supplied εἰς after σπεύδοντας . So E. V., “ hasting unto :” but there seems no reason for this. Two meanings are possible, regarding the accus. as in direct government by the participle: 1. ‘ busied about :’ so in reff.; also Pind. Isthm. v. 22, σπεύδειν ἀρετάν . But in each of these, the object of σπεύδειν seems more properly to belong to the action than here. In Isa., and in Pind., it is an abstract substantive: in Hom., it is ταῦτα , matters within the power and personal employment of the speakers. And so in the numerous other examples in Palm and Rost. Whereas the παρουσία κ . τ . λ ., a future thing, no matter of human practice, does not appear with equal propriety to be in this sense an object of σπεύδειν . 2. We have the other and cognate meaning of σπεύδειν transitive, to “ hasten ,” “ urge on :” which I agree with De Wette in adopting, and in understanding as he does, “They hasten it by perfecting, in repentance and holiness, the work of the Gospel, and thus diminishing the need of the μακροθυμία 2 Peter 3:9 ,” to which the delay of that day is owing. Huther’s objection to this is not difficult to answer. It is true, that the delay or hastening of that day is not man’s matter, but God’s: but it is not uncommon in Scripture to attribute to us those divine acts, or abstinences from acting, which are really and in their depth, God’s own. Thus we read, that “He could not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief,” Mat 13:58 compared with Mark 6:5-6 ; thus repeatedly of man’s striving with, hindering, quenching, God’s Holy Spirit) the advent ( παρουσία elsewhere commonly used of a person, and most usually of the presence or advent of the Lord Himself) of the day of God (= ἡμέρας κυρίου above. De W. compares Clem.-rom. Ephesians 2:0 ad Cor. 12, p. 345, οὐκ οἴδαμεν τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ θεοῦ . See also Tit 2:13 ), by reason of which ( δι ʼ ἥν , scil. ἡμέραν ; or, but not so well, παρουσίαν , on account of, for the sake of, which) the heavens being on fire (the pres. part. gives the reason of the fut. verb following) shall be dissolved, and the heavenly bodies being scorched up are to be melted ( τήκεται , the pres. of destiny: see above on λυομένων , 2 Peter 3:11 . De Wette thinks the meaning is not to be literally pressed, as if the στοιχεῖα were a solid mass which would actually liquefy: but why not? The same liquefaction has actually taken place in the crust of the earth wherever the central fires have acted on it. All our igneous rocks have been in a liquid state: why should not that day, in its purifying process, produce a similar effect on the earth again, and on her cognate planets, if they are to be included?

In this recapitulation, the Apostle mentions that part only of the destruction of that day which concerns the heavens : arguing à majori. The similarity to Isa 34:4 can hardly escape notice, καὶ τακήσονται πᾶσαι αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν . See also Mic 1:4 ).

Verse 13

13 .] The positive result of that day, as regards the church . But (contrast to the destructive effects of the day lately dwelt on: not “ nevertheless ” as E. V., which looks as if the two effects were in antagonism, and the earth were to be annihilated , of which idea there is no trace. The flood did not annihilate the earth, but changed it; and as the new earth was the consequence of the flood, so the final new heavens and earth shall be of the fire) according to His (God’s) promise (viz., that written in ref. Isa.) we (no stress, as is almost unavoidable in the E. V. “ Nevertheless we, according to his promise :” there is no ἡμεῖς , nor is the distinction drawn between us and any other class of persons) expect new heavens and a new earth, in which (heavens and earth, plur.) righteousness dwelleth (ref. Isa., cf. also οὐκ ἀδικήσουσιν , … ἐπὶ τῷ ὄρει τῷ ἁγίῳ μου , λέγει κύριος , of Isa 65:25 ).

Verse 14

14 .] Exhortation founded on this expectation . Wherefore, beloved, expecting (as ye do) these things (the pres. part. gives the reason of the verb following: and does not, as Huther and Dietlein, belong to the exhortation, προσδοκῶντες σπουδάσατε : for the Apostle has just assumed προσδοκῶμεν as a patent fact), be earnest ( σπουδάσατε , aor.: not the daily habit so much, as the one great life-effort which shall accomplish the end, is in the Apostle’s mind) to be found (at His coming. This word shews plainly enough that a personal coming of the Lord, as in 2 Peter 3:4 , is in the view of the Apostle throughout, as connected with the proceedings of the great Day. The form of expression reminds us forcibly of Matthew 22:11 ff.) spotless (reff.) and blameless (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:3 ; 2 Corinthians 8:20 ; also σπῖλοι κ . μῶμοι , the contrast, above, ch. 2 Peter 2:13 . From the connexion there with a feast, it seems very probable that in both passages the parable of the wedding garment was floating before the Apostle’s mind) in His sight (so, and not, “ by Him ,” or “ of Him ,” as E. V., must we render: see reff.) in peace (second predicate after εὑρεθῆναι : the ἄσπιλοι κ . ἄμωμοι were with reference to God ( αὐτῷ ); this, in reference to your own state and lot: in peace among yourselves, in peace with yourselves, in peace for yourselves, with God. But perhaps an expression so familiar to the Eastern tongue as ἐν εἰρήνῃ , may have an onward as well as a present meaning, as in πορεύεσθαι ἐν εἰρήνῃ and εἰς εἰρήνην (reff. and Luke 7:50 ; Luk 8:48 ): and be taken of that eternal peace, of which all earthly peace is but a feeble foretaste):

Verse 15

15 .] and account the long-suffering of our Lord ( τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν , thus expressed, is hardly to be dissevered from Him who is expressly thus named below, 2 Peter 3:18 . And if so, then, throughout this weighty passage, the Lord Jesus is invested with the full attributes of Deity. It is He who waits and is long-suffering: He, in His union and co-equality with the Father, who ruleth all things after the counsel of His own will) salvation (contrast to βραδυτῆτα ἡγοῦνται , 2Pe 3:9 ): even as also (besides myself) our beloved brother (this term is probably used in a closer sense than as merely signifying fellow-Christian: our beloved fellow-Apostle) Paul according to the wisdom given to him (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:10 , κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι , ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων κ . τ . λ . Also Galatians 2:9 ; Ephesians 3:2 ; Ephesians 3:7-8 ; Col 1:25 ) wrote to you (What? Where? to whom? By some the reply to the first has been found in the preceding clause, τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μακροθυμίαν σωτηρίαν ἡγεῖσθε : which, in sense, is almost identical with Romans 2:4 , ἀγνοῶν ὅτι τὸ χρηστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς μετάνοιάν σε ἄγει . So Œc., Grot., al., and more recently Huther, Dietlein. But surely the reference is too narrow to satisfy what follows here, λαλῶν ἐν αὐταῖς περὶ τούτων , where the reference must be to ταῦτα , which we Christians προσδοκῶμεν , viz. to the coming of the day of the Lord. Thus then we should interpret the καθὼς καί &c. of some particular passage in which St. Paul had exhorted to readiness in expectation of that day, and the ὡς καὶ ἐν πάσαις κ . τ . λ ., 2 Peter 3:16 , of the frequent mention of that day in his other Epistles. In searching then, 2. for some passages which may fulfil the above condition, it seems to me that we need not go beyond the earliest Epistle of St. Paul, viz. 1 Thessalonians. There, in ch. 1Th 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11 , we have a passage on this very point, and the more satisfactory, because St. Peter seems, in our 2 Peter 3:10 , to have had 1Th 5:2 before his mind. And as to, 3. ὑμῖν , there seems no need to press it as identifying any particular church, seeing that this our Epistle is addressed to all Christians alike: cf. ch. 2 Peter 1:1 . All that follows from ὑμῖν is what may also be gathered from 2 Peter 3:16 , that our Epistle belongs to a date when the Pauline Epistles were no longer the property only of the churches to which they were written, but were dispersed through, and considered to belong to, the whole Christian Church. What date that is, I have discussed in the Prolegomena. There have been very various opinions as to the passage and Epistle meant: Estius, Calov., Spanheim, Bengel, Gerhard, al., think it to be the Epistle to the Hebrews, on account of ch. Hebrews 9:26 ff., Hebrews 10:25 ; Hebrews 10:37 (see on these in the Prolegg. to the Hebrews, § i. par. 6): Jachmanu, the Epistles to the Corinthians, especially 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 , finding an allusion to 1 Corinthians 2:1 ff. in κατὰ σοφίαν κ . τ . λ .: Benson, the Epistles to the Gal., Eph., Col., being addressed to Asia Minor churches, as he holds this to be; Augusti, referring ἐν εἰρήνῃ to the difference between Paul and Peter, the Epistle to the Gal.: Pott, and Morus, some Epistle which has not come down to us),

Verse 16

16 .] as also in all ( his , but not expressed: with the ταῖς it would mean, in all his Epistles as a finished whole : without it, in all Epistles which he writes , leaving room for the possibility that the number of those Epistles was not complete, but still being added to) Epistles, speaking in them (as he does: the pres. part. contains the justification of the assertion: not as Huther, “when he speaks”) of these things (viz. the coming of our Lord, and the end of the world), in which (Epistles, if αἷς be read: if οἷς , “ in which sayings of his :” not, “in which things,” “in which subjects,” as some (e. g. Bengel) have rendered by way of escape from the supposed difficulty: for οἷς is correlative with τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς , and must therefore designate some writings previously mentioned: or else the sentence is stultified) are some things difficult to understand (De W. especially refers to 2 Thessalonians 2:1 ff.: and it is not improbable that this may have been particularly in the Apostle’s mind. See note on 2 Timothy 2:18 . Grot. is clearly wrong in extending the list to difficulties about faith and works, &c.), which the ignorant (unintelligent, uninformed: hardly, as De W., with an understood meaning of rebellion and unbelief: for that would be too much here. ἀμαθία may arise from many causes: but the misunderstanding of difficult Scriptures is common to the ἀμαθεῖς in general) and unstable (ref.: those who, wanting firm foundation and anchorage, waver and drift about with every wind of doctrine. Such persons are stirred from their Christian stability by every apparent difficulty: are rendered anxious and perplexed by hard texts: and shewing more anxiety to interpret them somehow, than to wait upon God for their solution, rush upon erroneous and dangerous ways of interpretation) distort ( στρεβλόω , properly, to twist with a handscrew or windlass, στρέβλη : σκάφος στρέβλαισι ναυτικαῖς προσηγμένον , Æsch. Suppl. 441. Hence to torment with the στρέβλη : and then met., to distort, pervert, strain, in meaning. Œc. gives for it ἐνδιαστρόφως ἐξαγγέλλειν ), as also the other Scriptures (or, passages of Scripture having reference to this great subject: as we have ἑτέρα γραφὴ λέγει John 19:37 , πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος (see note) 2 Timothy 3:16 . Whichever be understood, it is plain, 1. that by these words St. Paul’s Epistles are reckoned among the Christian scriptures: 2. that there were at this time besides those Epistles, other writings holding a similar place, known as γραφαί ; probably, at least, the three Gospels (and Acts?), and some of the earlier written catholic Epistles. That by τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς should be meant the O. T. scriptures, is not probable: these would have been more fully designated than by being placed in the same category with the inspired writings of recent or living men), to (as a contribution to towards, so as to help towards) their own perdition ( τὴν ἰδίαν αὐτῶν , more strongly reflective than with one of these merely).

Verse 17

17 .] Ye therefore, beloved, knowing (as ye do) beforehand (viz. the whole announcement of which this chapter has been full; the certainty that such false teachers will arise, and the course which they will take), take heed (be on your guard) lest ( ἵνα μή aft. φυλάσσομαι , here only. In Xen. Mem. i. 2. 37, we have, in Charicles’s famous answer to Socrates, φυλάττου ὅπως μὴ καὶ σὺ ἐλάττους τοὺς βοῦς ποιήσῃς ) being led away together with (it is a remarkable coincidence, that St. Peter, well acquainted as he was with St. Paul’s writings, should have written this word, which is the very one used by that Apostle (ref. Gal.) of Barnabas, at Antioch, when he συναπήχθη with the hypocrisy of Peter and the other Jews) the error (not, the deceit , act., deceiving others: but the aberration, wandering out of the right way, so as to follow it and become partakers with it) of the lawless (reff.) ye fall from (reff.: aor., because the fall would be one and decisive) your own steadfastness (contrast to ἀστήρικτοι above: see note there):

Verses 17-18

17, 18 .] Concluding exhortation : conveyed first in the form of a caution ( 2Pe 3:17 ), then in that of a positive exhortation to increase in grace and wisdom.

Verse 18

18 .] but (contrast to the fall just predicated as possible) grow (not only do not ἐκπέσητε τοῦ στηριγμοῦ , but be so firmly rooted as to throw out branches and yield increase. “Hæc unica est perseverandi ratio, si assidue progredimur.” Calv.) in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (the gen., τοῦ κυρ . κ . τ . λ ., belongs to both χάριτι and γνώσει , as is sufficiently shewn by the preposition extending over both. The common rendering, “ in grace and in the knowledge of …” would more naturally be ἐν χάριτι καὶ ἐν γνώσει . Taken as above, the genitive stands in somewhat different relation to the two datives. As regards χάριτι , it is a subjective gen., the grace of which Christ is the author and bestower; of which it is said, ἡ χάρις διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ ἐγένετο : as regards γνῶσις , it is an objective genitive, the knowledge of which Christ is the object).

Concluding doxology : “hymnus Christo quasi Deo,” as Pliny’s letter. To Him [be, or is] the glory ( the glory i. e. all glory that is rendered: the sum total of glory) both now and to the day of eternity ( ἡμέρα αἰῶνος , the day which shall dawn at the end of time, and being eternal, itself know no end: “tota æternitas una dies est,” as Estius. Bengel takes it to mean “dies sine nocte, merus et perpetuus:” and so Calov.: but this idea does not seem so congruous here, as that of mere duration. Grot., Beza take ἡμέρα for time . But considering how frequent ἡμέρα has been in this chapter, we have no right to seek for an unusual meaning, when the common one suits so well). [ Amen (cf. Jud 1:25 ).]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.